By: Jacob Walters
Sports franchises are mostly owned by a wealthy individual or an investment group. Fans of these franchises do not have a say in what goes on with the operations. But imagine a sports franchise where you, the common man, can have that seat at the table. You could have a say in what goes on with the only community-owned sports franchise in North America. No other team offers this type of luxury, especially with one of the most prestigious franchises in sports history. That is why Green Bay Packers, Inc. and their fans should be considered the best sports owner(s) in all of sports.
So how did the Green Bay Packers become a community-owned entity? The Packers were originally founded on August 11, 1919 by Curly Lambeau and George Whiney Calhoun. Financial troubles were hampering the team, leaving them on the verge of bankruptcy. Instead of selling the team or folding, the Packers formed their franchise into a publicly traded entity on August 18, 1923. They sold shares to the community and have 360,760 stockholders that collectively own 5,011,558 shares of stock in the Packers after the last stock sale in 2011 to 2012.
While the NFL does not allow corporate ownership of NFL franchises, the Packers were a community-owned entity before the rule was placed, making them an exception. Green Bay Packers, Inc. even offers shareholders rights (!), giving shareholders voting power when it comes to big decisions and the ability to purchase shareholder-only merchandise. Shareholders even get invited to the annual shareholders meeting and the opportunity to buy their own Super Bowl ring! How cool is that?
There are other perks that Packers fans have compared to other NFL franchises. They are the only NFL team to annually release their balance sheets. There is also the Green Bay Packers Foundation, which assists in a wide variety of activities. These include education, health services, human services, youth-related programs, and civic affairs. The Green Bay Packers Foundation has even made a grant to Planned Parenthood, ensuring that women have better access to birth control and other health-related issues.
It is not just the Green Bay Packers Foundation that has made significant strides in the Green Bay community. Aaron Rodgers has done work with the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer Fund (the MACC Fund) and created Aaron.com, a site dedicated to promote other charitable organizations across the state of Wisconsin. Other players have gotten in on philanthropic efforts during their time with the Packers. Jordy Nelson participated in the Packers’ annual softball game in June that benefits Young Life, a Christian organization that pairs children with older mentors. Randall Cobb is actively involved in the Dreambuilders Foundation, Clay Matthews is involved with Cure Duchenne, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has Ha Ha’s HERO Foundation. The Packers and their fans believe in giving back to the community and it shows with their team.
We have not even touched on the success this public-owned franchise yet. 11 NFL Championships pre-1970 NFL-AFL merger, four Super Bowls, nine conference championships, 19 division championships, and 33 playoff appearances have cemented the true power the fan has in running a team. Numerous Hall of Fame players and coaches have played for the Packers since the fans had a true say. You surely know the names by now: Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr, Brett Favre, Reggie White. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Green Bay legends. Here’s another fun fact for you: The Green Bay Packer have a winning record against all their divisional opponents, a distinction shared by only the Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs.
All of this in a small town. That is the power of the fan.
In an age where numerous rich sports owners can get away with numerous misdeeds, it is refreshing to see sports fans have a say in their team’s operations. The success that comes with the fan’s ownership proves that point. That is why you should vote for the Green Bay Packers and their fans as the “Best Sports Owner(s) of the 21st Century”.